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EU South Africa Review EU-SADC EPA

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Monday, 23 October 2017

EU South Africa Review EU-SADC EPA

One year after enacting the EU-South African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), officials from the EU and South Africa gathered in Johannesburg to review its progress and consider next steps. The EU-SADC EPA entered into force in October 2016, and is designed to be an asymmetrical, development-oriented agreement. The accord has been signed by six of the 15 SADC members, namely Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland. The EPA grants all of those countries, with the exception of South Africa, duty-free, quota-free access to the European market, while improving market access for Johannesburg. The 28-nation EU ranks as the largest trading partner for these countries, with European Commission statistics placing imports at over €30 billion in minerals, metals, and other products in 2015. The bloc exported similar levels of engineering, automotive, and chemical products. At this week’s meeting in Johannesburg, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström told stakeholders that the 28-nation bloc was determined to “build on the provisions of the EU-SADC EPA that enable and even require us to be inclusive and seek systematically the involvement of civil society.” The EU trade chief highlighted the value of bringing civil society and other stakeholders into the implementation process, including through “domestic advisory groups,” and noted that Brussels will be pushing to ink a deal with SADC EPA countries for setting up a “joint platform” bringing in additional points of view. The EU trade official further reaffirmed the importance of the binding provisions in the trade and sustainable development chapter of the deal, referring to labour and environmental standards. In a joint press release, South Africa Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said that “both parties should work together to ensure that the EPA contributes to the structural transformation agenda of the region, enhances trade, and promotes mutually beneficial outcomes.” However, the South African trade chief also told South African news agency the Daily Maverick that more could be done to make better use of the deals’ terms. “If our producers are not taking up their export quotas we need to see what it needs to meet the EU standards,” Davies said, referring specifically to agricultural exports. Malmström, meanwhile, noted in a speech to Witwatersrand University students this week that South African agricultural exports to the EU have grown over the past year, while noting “there is much more to do to really reap the benefits.”

Source: ICTSD